-- The Boston Bruins
played a perfect first period at even strength Friday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, they did not take advantage of the power-play opportunities that their strong work at even strength presented them. Those missed wound up looming awfully large in a second 1-0 defeat by the Vancouver Canucks
in this building this series.
"We got to find a way when we get opportunities on the power play," Milan Lucic
said. "There were some chances, but it's not good enough just to get chances, you got to bury them."
Added forward Michael Ryder
: "You definitely want to score a goal early in the game and especially when you get that many opportunities. Their PK worked hard tonight and did a great job. I think it is a matter of us making sure our power play outworks their penalty kill. That's all I think it comes down to. I think if we outwork them we will score a couple goals and get the success that we want."
Come Game 6, Boston's power play has to find a way to be better -- or the Bruins' season could come to an end.
On Friday night, the Canucks were a team determined to make a physical impact in the early stages of this contest. Boston had pushed them around a bit in Game 4, and Vancouver came out hitting from the opening faceoff.
The Canucks racked up 23 hits in the first 20 minutes, but also took three penalties in succession. Had Boston converted one of those power-play chances, there might have been some frustrated players sitting in the home dressing room during the first intermission.
Instead, buoyed by a feverish crowd that was emboldened by all the big hits and the strong work by the penalty-killers, the Canucks started to take control of the game in the second period -- and for the third time in this series owned the final 20 minutes on home ice.
"We were expecting that," Patrice Bergeron
said. "They are obviously a very physical team and being at home gives you energy. We had to match it. I thought we were fine with it. I don't think we panicked. But, that being said, in the third period they kind of took over and we let it happen."
The Bruins did everything right at even strength in the first 20 minutes. They didn't let the intense physical play rattle them or rush them into bad decisions. They didn't retaliate.
Part of the reason Vancouver was hitting so much was because the Bruins did such a good job of possessing the puck, forcing the Canucks to chase. The end result was a 12-6 advantage in shots on goal for Boston through the first period, but the failures on the power play were the biggest reason why the teams left the ice scoreless.
When the Bruins had an extra man on the ice, possessing the puck became a tougher task. Vancouver's PK did a fantastic job of disrupting Boston's power play and not letting the Bruins set up in the offensive zone for any prolonged periods.
Boston finished the first period with only five shots on net during the six minutes with the man advantage. Bergeron had two quality chances -- he redirected a point shot in front off of Roberto Luongo
's chest, and then was wide-open on the rebound only to have Luongo get the back of his blocker on the shot and deflected it wide.
Vancouver had two shots on Tim Thomas
while shorthanded, and Manny Malholtra's shot from near the right circle might have been the Canucks' best chance of the opening 20 minutes.
A big problem for the Bruins was not enough duplication of Bergeron's effort.
"It almost seemed like we were letting them push us out of the way in front of the net," Lucic said. "We've got to fight harder to get in his vision and get that traffic. [Luongo] is a world-class goaltender and if he sees it, he's going to stop it."
The Bruins are now 3-for-21 on the power play in the series and 8-for-82 in the playoffs.
"Tonight was certainly not a good night for a power play," coach Claude Julien
said. "It wasn't a good night for our whole team, as far as creating good-quality scoring chances. We had some, but the thing, again, that we need to do a lot better is get to that front of the net. We had guys, again, there, but on the side. We need to be a little more aggressive in that area than we were tonight. That's so huge for a hockey club and we need that."